Actions depend on their Intentions

Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) saying: “The reward of actions depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his migration was for that which he migrated.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Commentary:

This hadith is a great foundation regarding the actions of the heart due to the intentions being from the actions of the heart. The scholars have said: This hadith is half of worship because it is the scale of the inward actions. As well as the hadith of Aa’isha:

“Whoever innovates into this affair of ours that which is not from it shall have it rejected” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

And in another wording:

“Whoever does an action that is not from this affair of ours shall have it rejected” [Sahih Muslim]

This hadith is half of the Religion because it is the scale of the outward actions. So the benefit derived from his statement, “The reward of actions depends on their intentions,” (is that) there is no action except that it has an intention. That is because, it is impossible for any person that has intellect and the ability of choice to perform an action without an intention. Even some of the scholars have said, “If Allah were to burden us with actions without intentions, then there would be from responsibility that which no one could bear.”

And branching from this benefit: The refutation upon those who have been whispered to, who do actions repeatedly, a number of times, and then the shaytaan (Satan) whispers to them saying, ‘You did not have an intention’ We say to them, ‘No. It is not possible, ever, to do an action without an intention so lessen the burden on yourselves and leave off these whispers.

From the Benefits of this Hadith:

  1. A person is rewarded, punished or prohibited based upon his intention. This is due to the statement of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), “Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger,  his migration was for Allah and His Messenger”
  2. Actions, as well, are based upon what they lead to. Therefore, something that is Mubaah (permissible) in its origin can become obedience when a person intends well, for example, when a person intends in his eating and drinking piety upon obedience to Allah, and due to this the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘Eat the Suhoor (pre dawn meal when fasting) for there is blessing in the Suhoor.”
  3. It is appropriate for the teacher to strike examples that clarify the verdict. Due to this, the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) struck the example of migration (Hijrah), and it is to leave from the land of Shirk to the land of Islam. He clarified that migration is one action that a person can be rewarded for or obtain a sin. So the one who migrates for Allah and His Messenger is rewarded and achieves that which he intended, and the one who migrates to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage is prevented from this reward.

This hadith enters the topic of worship, interaction with one another, marriage, and every category of Fiqh.

And Allah Knows Best!

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